Carlism (Basque: Karlismo; Catalan: Carlisme; Galician: Carlismo; Spanish: Carlismo) is a Traditionalist and legitimist political movement in Spain seeking to take the Spanish throne for a line of the Bourbon dynasty[1] descended from Don Carlos, Count of Molina (1788–1855). The movement was founded due to dispute over the succession laws and widespread dissatisfaction with the Alfonsine line of the House of Bourbon. The movement was at its strongest in the 1830s but had a revival following Spain's defeat in the Spanish–American War in 1898, when Spain lost its last remaining significant overseas territories of Cuba, Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico to the United States.[2]

Carlism was a significant force in Spanish politics from 1833 until the end of the Francoist regime in 1975. In this capacity, it was the cause of Carlist Wars during the 19th century, and an important factor in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. Today, Carlists are a fringe entity.


Bandera carlista
Carlist flag

Objectively considered, the Carlism appears as a political movement. It arose under the protection of a dynastic flag that proclaimed itself "legitimist", and that rose to the death of Ferdinand VII, in the year 1833, with enough echo and popular roots, [...] they distinguish in him three cardinal bases that define it.

a) A dynastic flag: b) A historical continuity: c) And a legal-political doctrine:

— ¿Qué es el Carlismo?[3]


The dynastic issue

Systems of succession in dispute

Traditionally, all but one of the Spanish kingdoms allowed the succession of daughters in the absence of sons and of sisters in the absence of brothers (male-preference primogeniture). The one exception, Aragon, tended to favor semi-Salicism. The most elaborate rules of succession formed part of the Siete Partidas of the late 13th century.

On 1 November 1700 a French Bourbon prince, Philip V, acceded to the Spanish throne. In the French royal house, Salic law applied, which did not permit female succession. Accordingly, the traditional Spanish order of succession had to give way to a semi-Salic system, which excluded women from the crown unless all males in the agnatic descent from Philip, in any branch, became extinct. This change was probably forced by external pressure to avoid any possible personal union of the Crown of Spain with a foreign monarchy like France. (The War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) broke out to prevent Spain and France from uniting the two realms under the same king). Although the Spanish government made several attempts to revert to the traditional order, as in the Decree of 1789 by Charles IV of Spain (see below), the succession question became pressing only when, by 1830, Ferdinand VII found himself ailing, without any issue, but with a pregnant wife. He decided in 1830 to promulgate the 1789 decree, securing the crown for the unborn child even if female. The law placed the child, Princess Isabel, ahead of Ferdinand's brother Infante Carlos, who until then had been heir presumptive.

Many contemporaries (starting with the King's brother and the cadet Bourbon branches) saw the changed succession as illegal on various counts.[4] They formed the basis for the dynastic Carlist party, which only recognized the semi-Salic succession law that gave Infante Carlos precedence over Ferdinand's daughter, the future Isabella II.

Historical timeline

  • 13 May 1713: Philip V, first of the Spanish Bourbons, together with the Cortes, Spain's parliament, through an Auto Accordado changes the order of succession to the Spanish crown from that outlined in the Siete Partidas. Where the previous rule consisted of male-preference primogeniture, Philip's new law instituted semi-Salic law, under which accession of a female or her descendants is only possible following the extinction of all dynastic males descended in the male line from Philip V.
  • 1789: During the reign of Charles IV, the Cortes approves a reversion of the system of succession to the traditional Siete Partidas order of succession. However, the law was not promulgated, due in part to protests from the cadet branches of the House of Bourbon (the Sicilian branch and the Parmesan branch), who saw it as diminishing their hereditary rights.
  • 1812. A new Spanish constitution outlines the rules of succession in accordance with the Siete Partidas.
  • 31 March 1830: Ferdinand VII, at the time without issue and his fourth wife pregnant, promulgates the Pragmatic Sanction of 1830 which ratifies the 1789 law, thereby re-establishing the pre-Philippine order of succession.
  • 10 October 1830: The future Isabella II is born to Ferdinand VII. After several court intrigues, the Pragmatic Sanction is definitively approved in 1832. Ferdinand's brother, the Infante Don Carlos, up to that time the heir presumptive, feels robbed of his rights, and leaves for Portugal.
  • 1833–1876 Carlist Wars

Political landscape after the death of Ferdinand VII (1833)

Museo Zumalakarregi Exposición El siglo XIX en caricaturas
Satire was used in attempts to discredit the opposition, whether Liberal or Royalist (Carlist)

As in many European countries, after the Napoleonic occupation, the Spanish political class was split between the "absolutists", supporters of the ancien régime, and the Liberals, influenced by the ideas of the French Revolution.

The long war for Spain's independence from the Napoleonic Empire left a large supply of experienced guerrilla fighters and an oversized military officialdom—for the most part, staunch Liberals. The perceived success of the uprising of 1808 against Napoleon left also a broad, if unconscious, belief in the validity of the right of rebellion, with long-lasting effects on the politics of Spain and Spanish America, extending through the 19th century and beyond.

The reign of Ferdinand VII proved unable to overcome the political divide or to create stable institutions. The so-called Liberal Triennium (1820–1823) re-instated the 1812 constitution after a military "pronunciamiento", but was followed by the Ominous Decade (1823–1833), ten years of absolute rule by the king, that left bitter memories of persecution in both parties.

While in power, both groups had divided themselves into moderate and radical branches. The radical branch of the absolutists (or royalists), known as the Apostólicos, looked upon the heir presumptive, Don Carlos, as its natural head, as he was profoundly devout and, especially after 1820, staunchly anti-liberal.

In 1827, Catalonia was shaken by the rebellion of the Agreujats or Agraviados ("the Aggrieved"), an ultra-absolutist movement, which, for a time, controlled large parts of the region. The infante was for the first time then hailed as king. He denied any involvement.

The last years of King Ferdinand saw a political realignment due to the troubles surrounding his succession. In October 1832, the King formed a moderate royalist government under Francisco Cea Bermúdez, which almost succeeded in curbing the Apostolic party and, through an amnesty, in gaining liberal support for Isabella's right to succeed under the regency of her mother, Maria Christina of Bourbon-Two Sicilies. If only to get rid of Don Carlos, the Liberals accepted the new Princess of Asturias.

Moreover, the first years of the 1830s were influenced by the failure of the French Restoration, which meant the end of Bourbon rule in France, and the civil war in Portugal between both legitimist and liberal parties.

Social and economic factors

Two typical Carlist co-religionists of the 19th century Francisco Solà i Madriguera, of Taradell (Osona), with his son, around 1870.

Beside this political evolution, the years before the Carlist wars were marked by a deep economic crisis in Spain, partly spurred by the loss of the continental American provinces, and by the bankruptcy of the state. The last triggered enhanced tax pressures which further fueled social unrest.

Certain economic measures proposed by the Liberals (such as the Desamortización, i.e. the takeover, division and sale of the commons and Church property, initiated in 1821) were directly threatening the viability of many small farms, whose residents were accustomed to rely on the common pasture lands to feed, at little or no cost, their mules and oxen. Widespread poverty followed, as did the closure of most hospitals, schools and other charities.

An important factor was the 'religious' question. The radical liberals (progresistas) after 1820 had grown more and more anticlerical, strongly opposing religious institutes. They were suspected of being adherents of Freemasonry. This policy alienated them from many sectors of the (mostly deeply Catholic) Spanish people, especially in rural areas.

The only institution abolished in the "Liberal Triennium", that was not restored by Ferdinand VII, was the Inquisition. One of the demands of the radical absolutist party was its reinstitution. Liberals had been, while in power, quite doctrinaire, pursuing centralization and uniform administration.

Besides the Basque Country, in many regions of Spain there were intense particularist feelings, which were thus hurt. While only a secondary factor at the outbreak of the first Carlist war, this anti-uniformist localism, exemplified in the defense of the fueros, would become in time one of the more important banners of Carlism. This won Carlism support in the Basque territories (Navarre, Gipuzkoa, Biscay and Araba), as well as the old realms of the Crown of Aragon (Aragon, Catalonia and Valencia), as those areas resented the abolition of their ancient self-government privileges by issuance of the Nueva Planta Decrees.


The history of Carlism can be usefully divided into four different stages, whose dates are only approximate (thus the overlap is intentional):

  • 1833–1876: factions pursued power mainly by military means.
  • 1868–1936: Carlism reverted to a peaceful political movement.
  • 1936–1975: During the Spanish Civil War, Carlists were part of Franco's coalition. During the Franco regime, some government ministers were drawn from Franco's Carlist supporters, but the movement as a whole was gradually marginalized by the generalissimo.
  • 1975–present: After Franco's death, the Carlist movement declines into near irrelevance.

Carlist Wars (1833–1876)

Sublevación Carlista en 1833
Don Carlos calling the Navarrese in 1833.
Ataque al Puente de Luchana
Attack on the bridge of Luchana, near Bilbao during the first war.
Sitio de Bilbao
Refugees fleeing through the port of Guetaria in the first war.
Fusilamientos de Estella
1846 rendition of the executions ordered by Maroto in Estella (1839)

The period of the Carlist Wars, during which the party tried to attain power mainly through military means, is both classical Carlism, because the wars — or the threat of them — placed Carlism on the center stage of Spain's political history, and formative, as Carlism evolved the cultural and sociological form it would retain for well over a hundred years.

Historical highlights of this era are the:

Points of convergence

All three wars share a common development pattern:

  1. A first stage of guerrilla activity, across all of Spain.
  2. A second stage of territorial resistance is created, with regular army units created. The 1847 war did not get further than this.
  3. A third stage of territorial stability achieved through conventional leads to the creation of State structures. No Carlist war went further than this.

At the beginning of each war, no regular army unit was on the Carlist side, and only the third was the result of a planned uprising.

The first war was noteworthy for being, on both sides, extremely brutal. The Liberal army mistreated the population, most of whom it suspected of being Carlist sympathizers, to the point of, sometimes, attempted extermination; Carlists, very often, treated Liberals no better than they had treated Napoleonic soldiers and agents, to such an extent that the international powers forced the warring parties to recognize some rules of war, namely the "Lord Eliot Convention". Brutality did not disappear completely, and giving no quarter to one's enemy was not uncommon.

The areas over which Carlism could establish some sort of territorial authority during the first war (Navarre, Rioja, the rural Basque Country, inner Catalonia and northern Valencia) would remain the main bulwarks of Carlism throughout its history, although there were active supporters of the movement everywhere else in Spain. Especially in Navarre, Asturias, and parts of the Basque Provinces Carlism remained a significant political force until the late 1960s.

Carlist military leaders


Tomás de Zumalacárregui

Ramón Cabrera

Ramón Cabrera

Carlists in peace (1868–1936)

The loss of prestige and subsequent fall of Isabel II in 1868, plus the staunch support of Carlism by Pope Pius IX, led a sizable number of former Isabelline conservative Catholics (e.g., Francisco Navarro Villoslada, Antonio Aparisi,[5] Cándido Nocedal, Alejandro Pidal) to join the Carlist cause. For a time, even beyond the start of the third war (1872), it became the most important, and best organized, "right-wing" opposition group to the revolutionary regime, with some 90 members of parliament in 1871.

After the defeat, a group (led by Alejandro Pidal) left Carlism to form a moderate, non-dynastic Catholic party in Spain, which latter merged with the conservatives of Antonio Cánovas del Castillo.

In 1879 Cándido Nocedal was charged with the reorganization of the party. His main weapon was a very aggressive press (in 1883 Pope Leo XIII published the encyclical Cum multa, trying to moderate it). His stance was an uncompromising adherence to the Carlists' political and, especially, religious principles (hence the term "integrist"). This tendency became so radical that in 1888, Carlos VII had to expel the group centered around Ramón Nocedal, Cándido's son, which thus gave rise to another small, but in clerical circles influential, Integrist Party.

Meanwhile, Marquis de Cerralbo built up a modern mass party, centered around the local assemblies (called "Círculos", of which several hundred existed throughout Spain in 1936) and their social action programmes, and in active opposition to the political system of the Restoration (participating even in broad coalitions, such as 1907's "Solidaritat Catalana", with regionalists and republicans). During electoral campaigns the Carlists, except Navarre, achieved little success.

From 1893 to 1918, Juan Vázquez de Mella was its most important parliamentary leader and ideologue, seconded by Víctor Pradera, who had wide influence on Spanish conservative thinking beyond the party.

World War I had a special influence on Carlism. As the Carlist claimant, then Jaime, Duke of Madrid, had close ties to the Russian Imperial Family, had been mistreated by Austrian Emperor Franz Josef, and was also Head of the House of Bourbon, he favoured the Allies, but was living under house-arrest in Austria, at Schloss Frohsdorf, with almost no communication with the political leadership in Spain. As the war ended and Don Jaime could again freely communicate with Spain, a crisis erupted, and Vázquez de Mella and others had to leave the party's leadership (the so-called "Mellists").

In 1920, Carlism helped to found the "Sindicatos Libres" (Catholic Labour Unions) to counter the increased influence of leftist trade unions over the working class, clinging to a difficult balance between labour claims and the interests of the upper-class, to whom Carlism was so attached.

Miguel Primo de Rivera's dictatorship (1923–1930) was opposed but ambiguously viewed by Carlism, which, like most parties, entered a period of slumber, only to be awakened by the coming of the Second Republic in 1931. In the run-up to the proclamation of the Republic, the Carlists got together with the re-founded Basque Nationalist Party within the pro-charters Coalición Católico Fuerista in the core areas of Carlism, the Basque region, thus providing the springboard for the draft Basque Statute.

In October 1931, Carlist claimant to the Spanish throne Duke Jaime died. He was succeeded by the 82-year-old claimant Alfonso Carlos de Borbón, reuniting under him the integrists led by Olazábal and the "Mellists". They represented a region-based Spanish nationalism with an entrenched identification of Spain and Catholicism. The ensuing radicalized Carlist scene overshadowed the "Jaimists" with a Basque inclination. The Basque(-Navarrese) Statute failed to take off over disagreements on the centrality of Catholicism in 1932, with the new Carlist party Comunión Tradicionalista opting for an open confrontation with the Republic. The Republic established a secular approach of the regime, a division of Church and state, as well as freedom of cults, as France did in 1905, an approach traditionalists could not stand.

The Comunión Tradicionalista (1932) showed an ultra-Catholic, anti-secular position, and plotted for a military takeover, while adopting far-right apocalyptic views and talking of a final clash with an alliance of alleged anti-Christian forces. The most extreme proponent of these views was Juan Vazquez de Mella, who argued that Jewish capital had financed the liberal revolution and was now behind the Communist revolution in order, in union with the "Muslim hordes" (even the native tribesmen of the Rif fighting for their freedom), to destroy Christian civilization and impose a "Jewish tyranny on the world".[6] At the time, a Rothschild-Marx link and a bridgehead laid over Spain was being cited in the far-right circles to found these claims.[7]

In Navarre, the main Carlist stronghold, the movement revolved around the newspaper El Pensamiento Navarro, read almost exclusively by the clergy and second in circulation to El Diario de Navarra, another ultra-Conservative daily with an anti-Basque streak. The dormant paramilitary Requeté of the early 20th century was activated. As early as May 1931, Jaime del Burgo (father of the 1979 UPN namesake party leader) and other Jaimist young members organized arms smuggling from Eibar to distribute them among "defence" parties called Decurias, counting on the financing of wealthy personalities (big landowners, etc.). In 1932, the first coup d'état attempt took place against the Republic in the Sanjurjada, with a Carlist inspiration.[8]

The October 1934 Revolution cost the life of the Carlist deputy Marcelino Oreja Elósegui, with Manuel Fal Condé taking over from young Carlists clustering around the AET (Jaime del Burgo and Mario Ozcoidi) in their pursuit to overthrow the Republic. The Carlists started to prepare for an armed definite clash with the Republic and its different leftist groups. From the initial defensive Decurias of Navarre (deployed in party seats and churches), the Requeté grew into a well-trained and strongest offensive paramilitary group in Spain when Manuel Fal Condé took the reins. It numbered 30,000 red berets (8,000 in Navarre and 22,000 in Andalusia).[9]

Spanish Civil War and Franco regime (1936–1975)

SPA-2014-San Lorenzo de El Escorial-Valley of the Fallen (Valle de los Caídos)
The Valle de los Caídos near Madrid, built by Republican prisoners of war used as slave labour

During the war (1936–1939)

Ayegui - Monasterio Irache 13
Monastery of Irache, where General Mola held preparatory conspiracy meetings with Carlist leader Manuel Fal Conde and other plotters (July 1936)
Pasillo entrada fuerte San Cristóbal
The San Cristobal fortress-turned-prison, home to one of the darkest episodes of the Civil War in Navarre

The Carlist militia, the Requetés, had been receiving military training during the Second Spanish Republic but had significant ideological differences with many of the conspiring generals.[10] With the July 1936 revolt and the ensuing Spanish Civil War, the Carlists fell naturally if uneasily on the side of the Nationalist rebels. General Mola, known for his openness on his no-holds-barred, criminal approach,[11][12] had just been relocated away to Pamplona by the Republican authorities, ironically to the very heart of the far-right rebellion.

In May 1936, the General met with Ignacio Baleztena, a Navarrese Carlist figure at the head of the Requetés, offering the participation of 8,400 voluntaries to support the uprising, turned into a counter-revolutionary reaction. The principles divide between Manuel Fal Conde and Mola (basically a Falangist) almost broke the understanding for a Carlist allegiance to the coup on 4 July 1936. However, rebellious cooperation against the legitimate Republican government was restored by the intervention of Tomás Domínguez Arévalo, count of Rodezno.

The highest Carlist authority, the Duke Alfonso Carlos, did not approve of the pact, but all the same, by then Mola was negotiating directly with the Carlist Navarre Council (Junta Navarra), one that opted for the support to the uprising. On 19 July, the state of war was declared in Pamplona and the Carlist corps (tercio) in the city took over. In a few days time, just about all Navarre was occupied by the military and the Requetés. There was no front.

Immediately the rebels, with a direct participation of the Requetés and the clergy (the Carlist core in Navarre), engaged in a brutal repression to stamp out dissent that affected all inconvenient, mildly progressive, or Basque nationalist inhabitants and personalities. The killing in the rearguard took a direct death toll (extrajudicial executions) ranging from 2,857[11] to 3,000[13] to circa 4,000. A bleak scene of social humiliation and submission ensued for those surviving.

The Carlists' prospects in Gipuzkoa and Biscay were not auspicious. The military coup failed, and Carlist units were overwhelmed by forces loyal to the Republic, i.e. different leftist forces and the Basque nationalists. Many crossed the front-line to make themselves safe in the rebel zone, and added to the Carlist regiments in Álava and Navarre. Pamplona became the rebel launching point for the War in the North.

On 8 December 1936, Fal Conde had to leave temporarily for Portugal after a major clash with Franco. On 19 April 1937 the Carlist political bloc was "unified" with the Falange under the pro-Franco, umbrella nationalist party, Falange Española Tradicionalista de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista or FET de las JONS. Unwilling to leave the Nationalist movement, but unhappy with the merger, the new Carlist claimant Javier, prince de Borbón-Parma, condemned those Carlists who joined the new party.

He was expelled from the country, while Fal Conde was not allowed to return to Spain until after the war. Low-level Carlists, with the notable exception of those in Navarre, generally distanced themselves from the workings of the new party and in many cases never joined at all.[14]

Franco era

Henceforth, the mainstream kept an uncomfortable minority position inside the regime, more often than not at odds with its official policy, although the ministry of Justice was thrice given to a loyal "Carlist" (who was accordingly expelled from the Traditionalist Communion). This time was also marred by the problem of succession and internal strife over Francoism.

Carlist ministers in Franco's August 1939 cabinet included General José Enrique Varela at army, and Esteban Bilbao at justice.[15] At the same time, two of nine seats in the Junta Política were given to Carlists. Of the hundred-member National Council of the FET, seven seats were occupied by Carlists.[16]

Carlists continued to clash with Falangists, notably in an incident at Bilbao's Basilica of Begoña on August 16, 1942. Accounts of the violence vary, but a Carlist rally (where some allegedly shouted anti-Franco slogans) was targeted by two grenades hurled by Falangists. While alleged fatalities and the number of those injured have long been disputed, the incident led to a shakeup of the Franco cabinet and the judicial conviction of six Falangists (one, Juan José Domínguez, was executed for the crime).[17]

In 1955 Fal Conde resigned as Jefe Delegado of the movement and was replaced by José María Valiente, who formally assumed the title in 1960. The change marked a shift from opposition to collaboration with Francoism, and the rapprochement ended in 1968, when Valiente left office.

Franco recognized both the titles of nobility conceded by the Carlist claimants and those of the Isabelline branch. At his death, the movement was badly split, and unable to get wide public attention again.

In 1971, Don Carlos Hugo, prince de Borbón-Parma founded the new Carlist Party based on the confederalist vision for Las Españas ("the Spains") and socialist autogestion (then promoted in Yugoslavia). At Montejurra, on 9 May 1976, adherents of the old and new versions of Carlism brawled. Two Hugo supporters were killed by far-right militants, among whom was Stefano Delle Chiaie. The Carlist Party accused Hugo's younger brother, Don Sixto Enrique de Borbón-Parma, of aiding the militants, which collaboration the Traditionalist Communion denies.[18]

Estella road signs
Tourist sign to the Museum of Carlism in Estella

The Post-Franco period (1975-present)

In the first democratic elections on 15 June 1977, only one Carlist senator was elected, journalist and writer Fidel Carazo from Soria, who ran as an independent candidate. In the parliamentary elections of 1979, rightist Carlists integrated in the far-right coalition Unión Nacional, that won a seat in the Cortes for Madrid; but the elected candidate was not himself a Carlist. The Carlists have since remained extra-parliamentary, obtaining only town council seats.

In 2002 Carlos Hugo donated the House's archives to the Archivo Histórico Nacional, which was protested by his brother Don Sixto Enrique and by all Carlist factions.

Carlist claimants to the throne

The regnal numbers are those used by their supporters. While they were not proclaimed kings, they made use of some titles associated with the Spanish throne.

Claimant Portrait Birth Marriages Death
Carlos, Count of Molina
(Carlos V)
(English: Charles V)
Carlos María Isidro de Borbón, por Vicente López 29 March 1788, Aranjuez
son of Carlos IV
and Maria Luisa of Parma
Maria Francisca of Portugal
September 1816
3 children
Maria Teresa, Princess of Beira
No children
10 March 1855
aged 66
Carlos, Count of Montemolin
(Carlos VI)
(English: Charles VI)
Infante Carlos, Count of Montemolin 31 January 1818, Madrid
son of Carlos, Count of Molina
and Maria Francisca of Portugal
Maria Carolina of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
10 July 1850
No children
31 January 1861
aged 43
Juan, Count of Montizón
(Juan III)
(English: John III)
John Charles Bourbon Litho 15 May 1822, Aranjuez
son of Carlos, Count of Molina
and Maria Francisca of Portugal
Beatrix of Austria-Este
6 February 1847
2 children
21 November 1887
aged 65
Carlos, Duke of Madrid
(Carlos VII)
(English: Charles VII)
Carlos Duke of Madrid 30 March 1848, Ljubljana
son of Juan, Count of Montizón
and Beatrix of Austria-Este
Margarita of Bourbon-Parma
4 February 1867
5 children
Berthe de Rohan
28 April 1894
No children
18 July 1909
aged 61
Jaime, Duke of Madrid
(Jaime III)
(English: James III)
Don Jaime de Borbón 27 June 1870, Vevey
son of Carlos, Duke of Madrid
and Margarita of Bourbon-Parma
never married 2 October 1931
aged 61
Alfonso Carlos, Duke of San Jaime
(Alfonso Carlos I)
(English: Alphonse Charles I)
Alfonso Carlos of Bourbon, Duke of San Jaime 12 September 1849
son of Juan, Count of Montizón
and Beatrix of Austria-Este
Maria das Neves of Portugal
26 April 1871
1 child
29 September 1936
aged 87

The succession after Alfonso Carlos

At the death of Alfonso Carlos in 1936 most Carlists supported Prince Xavier of Bourbon-Parma whom Alfonso Carlos had named as regent of the Carlist Communion.

A minority of Carlists supported Alfonso XIII, the exiled constitutional king of Spain, who was the senior male descendant of King Charles IV. The majority of Carlists, however, considered Alfonso disqualified because he did not share the Carlist ideals (and, importantly, because Spanish law[19] excluded from succession the descendants of those who commit treason against the king, as Carlists deem Alfonso's male-line ancestors to have done once Francisco de Paula recognized the reign of Isabella II). Many also regarded his descent as illegitimate, believing that Alfonso XII's biological father was a lover of Queen Isabella's rather than her husband.

A small number of Carlists supported Archduke Karl Pius of Austria, Prince of Tuscany, a grandson through the female line of Carlos VII.

Most of the following events happened under the regime of Francisco Franco, who skillfully played each faction off against the others.

Borbón-Parma claim

  • Francisco Javier I[20]
Royal Coat of Arms used by the supporters of the Claimants to the Spanish Throne (adopted c.1942) Golden Fleece Variant
Coat of arms used by the supporters of the Carlist claimants to the Spanish Throne with the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary adopted c.1942 by Xavier of Bourbon.

Prince Xavier of Bourbon-Parma (25 May 1889 – 7 May 1977), known in Spain as Don Javier de Borbón, had been named regent of the Carlist Communion by Alfonso Carlos in 1936 as the nearest member of the House of Bourbon who shared the Carlist ideals.

During the Second World War, Prince Xavier returned to the Belgian army, where he had served during World War I. He was demobilized and joined the French maquis. He was taken prisoner by the Nazis and sent to Natzweiler and Dachau concentration camp, where American troops liberated him in 1945. In 1952, Javier was proclaimed King of Spain, asserting Carlist legitimacy. Since the death of Alfonso Carlos, his successor by right of agnatic primogeniture had yet to be determined. To do so, it was necessary to trace the patriline of Philip V to his seniormost descendant who was not excluded from the throne by law (for treason, morganatic marriage, birth out-of-wedlock and other reasons legally established in the Novísima Recopilación of 1805, in force at the time of the First Carlist War). In 1952, when all lines senior to the House of Bourbon-Parma were deemed excluded, the claim was taken up by Don Javier (descended from Duke Philip of Parma, third son of Philip V). Even though he was raised in the Carlist camp and named regent of the Carlist Communion in 1936, his proclamation as king later in 1956 was, it was asserted, not a political move based on ideology, but the consequence of dynastic legitimacy. He remained the Carlist claimant until his renunciation in 1975.

Changes in the views of some in the Carlist movement polarized Javier's supporters between his two sons, Carlos Hugo and Sixto Enrique (and many more endorsing neither) in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Carlos Hugo turned organized Carlism into a socialist movement, while his brother Sixto Enrique (supported by his mother Madeleine de Bourbon-Busset) followed a far rightist course.

In 1977 Sixto Enrique's supporters published a manifesto from Javier condemning Carlos Hugo. Several days later Carlos Hugo's supporters published a manifesto from Javier recognising Carlos Hugo as his heir.

Carlos Hugo 1968
Carlos Hugo (1968)

Carlos Hugo, Duke of Parma (8 April 1930 – 18 August 2010) was the elder son of Xavier. He was Carlist claimant from 1977 until his death. After alienating many Carlists by his attempts to approach Franco (1965–1967), Carlos Hugo switched to a leftist Titoist, workers' self-management socialist movement. In 1979 he accepted Spanish citizenship from King Juan Carlos I and in 1980 he renounced his membership in the Partido Carlista, which he had created. Carlos Hugo had the support of a minority of Carlists including the Partido Carlista. He also excluded the Luxembourgeois branch of the family from Carlist succession due to unequal marriages by princes of that branch that were recognized as dynastic by the Grand Duke.

Prince Carlos, Duke of Parma (born 27 January 1970) is the elder son of Carlos Hugo. He inherited the Carlist claim on his father's death in 2010. Carlos has the support of a minority of Carlists including the Partido Carlista.

  • Sixto Enrique

Prince Sixto Enrique of Bourbon-Parma (born 22 July 1940) claims to be the current regent of the Carlist Communion. He is known as the Duke of Aranjuez.

Sixto Enrique is supported by the minority Comunión Tradicionalista, and some others who believe that his elder brother Carlos Hugo was rightful heir, but ineligible for the succession on account of his socialism. Sixto Enrique has never claimed to be Carlist king, in the hopes that one of his nephews will one day accept traditional Carlist values.

Borbón claim

  • Alfonso de Borbón

Alfonso XIII became the senior representative by primogeniture of the House of Bourbon at the death of Alfonso Carlos in 1936. He had reigned as the constitutional king of Spain as Alfonso XIII until his exile in 1931. He was the son of King Alfonso XII, son of Francisco de Asis de Borbón, son of Infante Francisco de Paula, the younger brother of Charles V. He was recognised as Carlist claimant by a minority of Carlists who considered the death of Alfonso Carlos an opportunity to reunite Spanish monarchists, both Carlist and Isabelline. Nonetheless, despite this apparently attractive opportunity, Franciso de Paula and his descendants were considered legally and morally excluded from the line of succession by many Carlists as traitors, according to the Spanish laws of succession as they stood in 1833 (and as defended by Carlists since then).[23] In 1941 Alfonso abdicated; he died two months later.

Alfonso's eldest son had died in 1938. His second son Infante Jaime, Duke of Segovia had been pressured to renounce his rights to the constitutional succession in 1933. Both had married morganatically. King Alfonso's third son, Don Juan, Count of Barcelona was his chosen successor.

Spagna 5 pesetas
The 5 pesetas coin of 1975 featured the official king, Juan Carlos I of Spain and a coat-of-arms with the San Andrés salitre, Carlists' assumed symbol.
  • Juan de Borbón claim
    • Infante Don Juan, Count of Barcelona (20 June 1913 – 1 April 1993) was the third son of Alfonso XIII. He was claimant to the throne of Spain from 1941 until his renunciation in 1977. In 1957, a group of Carlists recognized him as their chief in his exile at Estoril, Portugal.[24]
    • King Juan Carlos I is the surviving son of Don Juan, Count of Barcelona. He was the King of Spain from 1975 until his abdication in 2014.
    • King Felipe VI is the only son of Juan Carlos I. He is the current representative of this claim. He has been the king of Spain since 2014, confirmed by the Spanish Constitution of 1978.
  • Jaime de Borbón claim
    • Infante Jaime, Duke of Segovia was the second son of Alfonso XIII, and the older brother of Juan, Count of Barcelona. Despite his 1933 renunciation of the Spanish throne, in 1960 Jaime announced that he was the Carlist claimant and occasionally used the title Duke of Madrid; he remained a claimant until his death in 1975. He had only a few Carlist supporters, but among these was Alicia de Borbón y de Borbón-Parma, the only surviving daughter of previous Carlist claimant Carlos, Duke of Madrid. Jaime also became the Legitimist claimant to the French throne, using the title Duke of Anjou; in this capacity he had some supporters.
    • Alfonso, Duke of Anjou and Cádiz was the son of Jaime. He did not claim the Carlist succession between 1975 and his death in 1989.
    • Louis Alphonse, Duke of Anjou is the son of Alfonso. He has never claimed the Carlist succession.

Habsburgo-Borbón claim

The eldest daughter of Carlos, Duke of Madrid was Bianca de Borbón y Borbón-Parma (1868–1949). She married Archduke Leopold Salvator of Austria (1863–1931). In 1943, one of their sons presented himself as Carlist claimant in succession to his great-uncle Alfonso Carlos. Since this claim comes through a female line, it is rejected by most Carlists.

In 2012, Senator Iñaki Anasagasti of the Basque Country proposed the idea of creating a Catalan-Basque-Navarrese monarchy with Archduke Dominic of Austria its king.[25]


Carlism or Traditionalism can be labeled as a counter-revolutionary movement.

Carlism's intellectual landscape was a reaction against the basic tenets of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution of 1789; laicism, individualism, egalitarianism, rationalism. In this sense, it is akin to the French Reactionaries (Legitimism) and Joseph de Maistre's thinking.

It is difficult, though, to give an accurate description of Carlist thinking for several reasons:

  • As traditionalists, Carlists mistrusted ideology as a political driving force. Some 19th-century pamphlets expressed it in this form: against a philosophical constitution (liberalism, based on ideology), a historical constitution is proposed (based on history, and the teachings of the Church).
  • Carlism's long active history—it has been an important force for over 170 years—and the fact that it attracted a large and diverse following, makes a comprehensive categorization more difficult.
  • There has almost never been a single school of thought inside Carlism.
  • The ideas expressed inside Carlism were partly and openly shared with other forces on the political spectrum. The more conservative, Catholic (or Christian-democratic) wings of the various nationalist and regionalist movements throughout Spain can claim an indirect influence from Carlism, particularly relating to fueros and regional self-government.

While Carlism and Falangism had certain similarities—social conservatism, Catholicism and anti-Communism—there were also stark differences between the two movements. Most significant was the fact that whereas Falangism subscribed to a strongly centralising form of Spanish nationalism, Carlism was more supportive of the fueros, preserving local culture and regional autonomy as was one of their main tenets.

Carlism also supports Salic Law in regards to succession, being legitimist monarchists.

Coat of Arms used by the supporters of the Carlist Claimants to the Spanish Throne (adopted c.1890)
Variant of the Spanish royal arms with the Sacred Heart. It was a common emblem of the Carlism supporters during the Spanish Civil War.[26]

Dios, Patria, Fueros, Rey

These four words (which can be translated as God, Fatherland, Local Rule, and King), have been the motto and cornerstone of Carlism throughout its existence. What Carlism understood by these was:

  • Dios (God): Carlism believes in the Catholic Faith as a cornerstone of Spain, and must be politically active in its defense.
  • Patria (Fatherland): Carlism is heavily patriotic, Traditionalism sees the Fatherland as the nesting of communities (municipal, regional, Spain) united under one.
  • Fueros (similar to medieval charters): Part of the limitation of royal powers is the acknowledgment of local and regional self-rule (and of other types of communities in the political body, especially the Church). Although the result of a peculiar historical development in Spain, it converged with the concept of subsidiarity in Catholic social thought. Note that some versions of the motto omit the Fueros clause.
  • Rey (King): The concept of national sovereignty is rejected. Sovereignty is vested on the king, both legitimate in blood and in deeds. But this power is limited by the doctrine of the Church and the Laws and Usages of the Kingdom, and through a series of Councils, traditional Cortes and state-independent intermediate bodies. The King must also be the Defender of the Poor and Keeper of Justice.


Carlism was a true mass movement and drew its rank and file from all social classes, with a majority of peasant and working class elements. Thus, it is no surprise that Carlism was involved in the creation of Catholic trade unions. It was also a family tradition, later Carlists would be descendants of earlier Carlists.

Offshoots and influence

  • Cultural and political regionalism in Spain (not to be mistaken with regional nationalism or separatism) was largely Carlist-originated. The influence of Carlist thinker Juan Vázquez de Mella in this field can still be traced today.
  • One of the founders of Basque nationalism, Sabino Arana, came from a Carlist background, and for many years competed for the same audience (Basque deep Catholics). Compare the PNV slogan "God and Fueros". Basque nationalism, however, was effectively shaped by the Liberal Engracio de Aranzadi, an admirer of Mazzini. Carlist and Nationalists drafted the first Basque Statute of Autonomy, but Carlists battled and defeated Basque nationalists in 1936-1937.
  • Fuerismo was a doctrine prevalent in the Basque provinces. It supported the Isabelline monarchy but wanted to preserve the Fuero autonomy of the provinces.
  • Catholic politics are essential for Carlism. Compare the slogan Christus Rex.
  • Victor Pradera's thinking was very influential, through the group Acción Española, in Spanish authoritarian thinking in the 1930s and 1940s.
  • On 7 May 2007, Fernando Sebastián Aguilar, Archbishop of Pamplona and Tudela (Spain) caused controversy by publicly stating that the Traditionalist Carlist Communion, among others, is worthy of consideration and of electoral support.


Partido Carlista logo
The Carlist symbol


Related words

  • Estella-Lizarra was the site of the Carlist court.
  • Bergara/Vergara was the place of the Abrazo de Vergara, which ended the First Carlist War in the North.
  • Brigadas de Navarra were National Army units formed mainly by Requeté forces from Navarre at the start of the Spanish Civil War. They saw intensive action during the War.
  • Detente bala ("Stop bullet!") a small patch with an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus worn on the uniform (over the heart) by most requetés.
  • Margaritas. Carlist women organization. They often worked as war nurses.
  • Ojalateros were courtiers saying Ojalá nos ataquen y ganemos ("Wish they would attack us and we won"), but doing nothing to achieve victory. The name is a pun on hojalatero ("tinkerer", "pot-seller")
  • Requetés The armed Carlist militias.
  • Trágala, expression marking the desire to forcibly impose the ideas most hated by the opponents. Also a Liberal fighting song (chorus: "Swallow it, you Carlist, you who don't want a Constitution.").

Literary references to Carlism

Carlist Route
Tourist information panel marking the so-called Route of Carlism

The liberal Spanish journalist Mariano José de Larra opposed Carlism and published several lampoons against it. Nadie pase sin hablar al portero (1833) presents Carlists as a bunch of bandit priests.

Karl Marx mentioned the Carlists in his articles about the Spanish revolutions. An apocryphal quotation can be found among Spanish historians, where Marx would express a view of the Carlists as a revolutionary popular movement in defence of regional liberties.

Francisco Navarro-Villoslada was a Carlist writer that published a historic novel, Amaya o los vascos en el siglo VIII, in the fashion of Walter Scott, presenting the legendary origins of Spanish monarchy as the start of Reconquista.

The Arrow of Gold by Joseph Conrad is set against the background of the third Carlist war.

Ramón María del Valle-Inclán, novelist, poet and playwright, was a member of the Spanish Generation of 1898. He wrote novels about Carlism and was an active Carlist himself.

Pío Baroja wrote a novel, Zalacaín el aventurero (Zalacain the Adventurer), set during the Third Carlist War, and referred to Carlism in a not very favourable light (as he generally referred to nearly everybody) in several other works.

The Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno suffered as a child the siege of Bilbao during the Third Carlist War. Later he wrote a novel Paz en la guerra about that time. In 1895 he wrote to Joaquín Costa about his plans for an essay on the "intrahistoric" element of rural socialism within the Carlist masses.

See also



  1. ^ If reading it all, does our statement make sense [1].
  2. ^ Mezei, Regina (1996). "Carlism and the Spanish–American War: The Role of the Pretender Carlos VII". Mediterranean Studies. 6: 113–128. JSTOR 41166850.
  3. ^ Elías de Tejada y Spínola, Francisco; Gambra Ciudad, Rafael; Puy Muñoz, Francisco (1971). "1. El problema del carlismo" (PDF). ¿QUE es el CARLISMO?. Madrid: ESCELICER. Centro de Estudios Históricos y Políticos "General Zumalacárregui". p. 10. Objetivamente considerado, el Carlismo aparece como un movimiento político. Surgió al amparo de una bandera dinástica que se proclamó a sí misma «legitimista», y que se alzó a la muerte de Fernando VII, en el año 1833, con bastante eco y arraigo popular, [...] se distinguen en él esas tres bases cardinales que lo definen. a) Una bandera dinástica: Una continuidad histórica: Y una doctrina jurídico-política:
  4. ^ Opponents cited three possible causes of illegality most frequently, maintaining: 1) that King Ferdinand did not have the right to alter such a fundamental law without the support of the Cortes; 2) that the 1789 acts of the Cortes were not valid (either because it wasn't published in a timely manner or because the procurators had no powers on this issue); 3) that Carlos's pre-existing rights could not be diminished retroactively by a law enacted in his lifetime.
  5. ^ Wilhelmsen, Alexandra (1993). "Antonio Aparisi y Guijarro: A Nineteenth-century Carlist Apologist for a Sacral Society in Spain." In: Saints, Sovereigns, and Scholars. New York and Geneva: Peter Lamb.
  6. ^ Paul Preston (2013). The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain. London, UK: HarperCollins. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-00-638695-7.
  7. ^ Paul Preston (2013). The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain. London, UK: HarperCollins. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-00-638695-7.
  8. ^ Paul Preston (2013). The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain. London, UK: HarperCollins. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-00-638695-7.
  9. ^ Paul Preston (2013). The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain. London, UK: HarperCollins. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-00-638695-7.
  10. ^ Carroll, Warren J. (1993). "Carlism in the Spanish Rising of 1936." In: Saints, Sovereigns, and Scholars. New York and Geneva: Peter Lamb.
  11. ^ a b Paul Preston (2013). The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain. London, UK: HarperCollins. pp. 179–183. ISBN 978-0-00-638695-7.
  12. ^ In July 1936, the General asserted that "terror needs to be spread over (...) A feeling of domination needs to be achieved, eliminating without scruples or hesitation anyone who does not think like us" (surroundings of Pamplona).
  13. ^ Dronda, Javier (2013). Con Cristo o contra Cristo: Religión y movilización antirrepublicana en Navarra (1931–1936). Tafalla: Txalaparta. p. 381. ISBN 978-84-15313-31-1.
  14. ^ Payne, S.G. (1987). The Franco Regime, 1936–1975. Madison: University of Wisconsin, p 189.
  15. ^ Payne (1987), p. 235.
  16. ^ Payne 1987, p. 238.
  17. ^ Payne 1987, p. 306–308.
  18. ^ (in Spanish)
  19. ^ In 1833, before the unconstitutional usurpation that Carlists saw in the accession of Isabella II, the "Novísima Recopilación" of 1805, a compilation of previous laws, was in force in Spain. It included the Fifth Law of the 32nd Title of the "Ordenamiento de Alcalá" (which in turn gave legal force to the First Law, Sixth Title of the XIIth Book of Alfonso X's "Siete Partidas"), which punished rebellion against the legitimate king with severe measures, including loss of inheritance rights. This precept was invoked by Philip V in his exclusion of the Austrian Habsburg branch after the War of the Spanish Succession. It was also raised by supporters of Isabella II in the exclusion of Carlos V and his descendants from the throne—unsurprisingly, denounced by Carlists on the grounds of Isabella II's "usurpation". Upon the death of Alfonso Carlos, Duke of San Jaime in 1936 the seniority in male-line descent from Philip V went to the Alfonsine branch, not as descendants of Isabella II but of her husband/cousin Francisco de Asís de Borbón, son of Infante Francisco de Paula of Spain (younger brother of Ferdinand VII and Don Carlos). However, it is asserted that Francisco de Paula's recognition of Isabella II constituted a sufficient basis for exclusion from the succession according to the above-mentioned law. Franciso de Paula's male-line descendants, theoretically excluded from Carlist succession by his "treason" against Don Carlos, recognized not only Isabella II but, eventually, her progeny as Spain's constitutional kings. It is not surprising, then, that Carlists consider Alfonso XIII and his descendants to have forfeited any rights to the throne on a legal as well as ideological basis.
  20. ^ a b Borbone Parma La Dinastia Archived April 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Mensaje al Pueblo Carlista de S.M.C. Don Carlos Javier II de Borbón, Rey de Las Españasblogspot El Carlismo contra Globalizatión (Spanish)
  22. ^ El primogénito de Carlos Hugo de Borbón – Nuevo pretendiente carlista a la corona de España – website news agency Europa Press (Spanish)
  23. ^ For details on exclusion from succession for treason, see Melchor Ferrer's Historia del Tradicionalismo Español. Sevilla: Ediciones Trajano, 1941, p. 149.
  24. ^ Joseph Valynseele (1967). Les Prétendants aux Trônes d'Europe. France: Saintard de la Rochelle. pp. 149–151, 167–168, 174–176.
  25. ^ "Nabarra, Estado Soberano. Ironías del Destino: Desde 1936 la Corona Navarra y la Corona Española están separadas [Navarre, a sovereign state. Ironies of fate: Since 1936 the Navarrese Crown and the Spanish Crown have been separate]". Inaki Anasagasti website. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  26. ^ Menéndez Pidal y Navascués, Faustino, Hugo. El escudo. P. 212. At Menéndez Pidal y Navascués, Faustino; O´Donnell y Duque de Estrada, Hugo; Lolo, Begoña. Símbolos de España. Madrid: Centro de Estudios Políticos y Constitucionales, 1999. ISBN 84-259-1074-9
  27. ^ MacClancy, Jeremy (2000). The Decline of Carlism. University of Nevada Press, p. 32.


Further reading

  • Blinkhorn, Martin (1972). "Carlism and the Spanish Crisis of the 1930s," Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 7, No. 3/4, pp. 65–88.
  • Blinkhorn, Martin (1975). Carlism and Crisis in Spain, 1931–1939, Cambridge University Press.
  • Brennan, Gerald (1960). "The Carlists." In: The Spanish Labyrinth. Cambridge University Press, pp. 203–214.
  • Brooks, Sydney (1902). "The Situation in Spain," The North American Review, Vol. 174, No. 546, pp. 640–653.
  • Coverdale, John F. (1984). The Basque Phase of Spain's First Carlist War. Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press.
  • Dillon, E. J. (1898). "The Coming of Carlism," The Contemporary Review, Vol. LXXIV, pp. 305–334.
  • Holt, Edgar (1967). The Carlist Wars in Spain. London: Putnam.
  • Miguel López, Raimundo de (1993). "El Pensamiento Político del Primer Carlismo." In: Saints, Sovereigns, and Scholars. New York and Geneva: Peter Lamb.
  • Mezei, Regina (1996). "Carlism and the Spanish–American War: The Role of the Pretender Carlos VII," Mediterranean Studies, Vol. 6, pp. 113–128.
  • O'Shea, John Augustus (1884). "With the Carlists," The Catholic World, Vol. 39, No. 234, pp. 801–815.
  • Parker, A. A. (1937). "History of Carlism in Spain," Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, Vol. 26, No. 101, pp. 16–25.
  • Parker, A. A. (1937). "History and Policy of Carlism," Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, Vol. 26, No. 102, pp. 207–222.
  • Parker, A. A. (1937). "Carlism in the Spanish Civil War," Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, Vol. 26, No. 103, 383–398.
  • Preston, J. W. (1873). "Carlism in Spain," Scribner's Monthly, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 229–235.
  • Roche, James (1899). "The Outlook for Carlism," The North American Review, Vol. 168, No. 511, pp. 739–748.

External links

Basque nationalism

Basque nationalism (Basque: eusko abertzaletasuna) is a form of nationalism that asserts that Basques, an ethnic group indigenous to the western Pyrenees, are a nation, and promotes the political unity of the Basques. Since its inception in the late 19th century, Basque nationalism has included separatist movements.

Basque nationalism, spanning three different regions in two states (the Basque Autonomous Community and Navarre in Spain, and the French Basque Country in France) is "irredentist in nature" as it favors political unification of all the Basque-speaking provinces.

Carlist Party (1970)

The Carlist Party (Spanish: Partido Carlista, Catalan: Partit Carlí, Basque: Karlista Alderdia, Galician: Partido Carlista, Asturian: Partíu Carlista; PC) is a Spanish political party that considers itself as a successor to the historical tradition of Carlism. The party was founded in 1970, although it remained illegal until 1977 following the death of the caudillo Francisco Franco and the democratisation of Spain.

Since 2000, the general secretary of the party has been Evaristo Olcina and its official publication since is El Federal. It has a political line of the alternative left, workers' self-management and confederalism. It annually organises the acts of Montejurra. The Carlist Party holds a federal structure with the possibility of it forming sovereign Carlist parties in the associate nationalities in the Carlist Party. The youths of the different Carlist parties and Carlist groups group together in the Carlist Youths. The party is known as the left-wing of the Carlist movement since the movement itself has historically been a right-wing conservative one.

The Carlist Party was also known for supporting Carlos Hugo, Duke of Parma over his brother for leading the Carlist movement.

Carlist Wars

The Carlist Wars were a series of civil wars that took place in Spain during the 19th century. The contenders fought to establish their claim to the throne, although some political differences also existed. Indeed, several times during the period from 1833 to 1876 the Carlists — followers of Infante Carlos (later Carlos V) and his descendants — rallied to the cry of "God, Country, and King" and fought for the cause of Spanish tradition (Legitimism and Catholicism) against liberalism, and later the republicanism, of the Spanish governments of the day. The Carlist Wars had a strong regional component (Basque region, Catalonia, etc.), given that the new order called into question region–specific law arrangements and customs kept for centuries.

When Ferdinand VII of Spain died in 1833, his fourth wife Maria Cristina became Queen Regent on behalf of their infant daughter Isabella II. This splintered the country into two factions known as the Cristinos (or Isabelinos) and the Carlists. The Cristinos were the supporters of the Queen Regent and her government, and were the party of the Liberals. The Carlists were the supporters of Carlos V, a pretender to the throne and brother of the deceased Ferdinand VII. Carlos denied the validity of the Pragmatic Sanction of 1830 that abolished the semi Salic Law (he was born before 1830). They wanted a return to autocratic monarchy.While some historians count three wars, other authors and popular usage refer to the existence of two big engagements, the First and the Second, with the 1846–1849 events being taken as a minor episode.

The First Carlist War (1833–1840) lasted more than seven years and the fighting spanned most of the country at one time or another, although the main conflict centered on the Carlist homelands of the Basque Country and Aragon, Catalonia and Valencia.

The Second Carlist War (1846–1849) was a minor Catalan uprising. The rebels tried to install Carlos VI on the throne. In Galicia, the uprising was on a smaller scale and was put down by General Ramón María Narváez.

The Third Carlist War (1872–1876) began in the aftermath of the deposition of one ruling monarch and abdication of another. Queen Isabella II was overthrown by a conspiracy of liberal generals in 1868, and left Spain in some disgrace. The Cortes (Parliament) replaced her with Amadeo, the Duke of Aosta (and second son of King Victor Emmanuel of Italy). Then, when the Spanish elections of 1872 resulted in government violence against Carlist candidates and a swing away from Carlism, the Carlist pretender, Carlos VII, decided that only force of arms could win him the throne. The Third Carlist War began. It lasted until 1876.

The Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) was considered by the Carlists as another crusade against secularism. In spite of the victory of their side, General Franco frustrated the pretensions of Carlist monarchism; he subsumed their militias into the Nationalist army and their political party Comunión Tradicionalista into his National Movement (Falange Tradicionalista y de las J.O.N.S.).

Cross of Burgundy

The Cross of Burgundy (Spanish: Cruz de Borgoña; Aspa de Borgoña) or the Cross of Saint Andrew (Spanish: Cruz de San Andrés), a saw-toothed (raguly) form of St. Andrew's cross, was first used in the 15th century as an emblem by the Valois Dukes of Burgundy, who ruled a large part of eastern France and the Low Countries as effectively an independent state. The Duchy of Burgundy was inherited by the House of Habsburg on the extinction of the Valois ducal line. The emblem was then assumed by the monarchs of Spain as a result of the Habsburgs bringing together, in the early 16th century, their Burgundian inheritance with the other extensive possessions they inherited throughout Europe and the Americas, including the crowns of Castile and Aragon, where the cross got a global impact, being found nowadays in different continents.

The Spanish monarchs continued to use it in their own arms after the Burgundian house was part of the Spanish Crown, and even after due to the extinction of the House of Burgundy. From 1506 to 1701 it was used by Spain as a naval ensign, and up to 1843 as the land battle flag, and still appears on regimental colours, badges, shoulder patches and company guidons. The emblem also continues to be used in a variety of contexts in a number of European countries and in the Americas, reflecting both the extent of Valois Burgundy and the former Habsburg territories.

Dios, rey y patria

Dios, rey y patria was a motto of Carlism. These three words (which can be translated as God, King and Fatherland), have been the motto and cornerstone of Carlism throughout its existence. What Carlism understood by these was:

Dios (God): Carlism believes in the Catholic Faith as a cornerstone of Spain, and must be politically active in its defense.

Patria (Fatherland): Carlism is heavily patriotic, Traditionalism sees the Fatherland as the nesting of communities (municipal, regional, Spain) united under one.

Rey (King): The concept of national sovereignty is rejected. Sovereignty is vested on the king, both legitimate in blood and in deeds. But this power is limited by the doctrine of the Church and the Laws and Usages of the Kingdom, and through a series of Councils, traditional Cortes and state-independent intermediate bodies. The King must also be the Defender of the Poor and Keeper of Justice.Sometimes added to this at the time of the First Carlist War was a fourth tenant Fueros. Stipulating the desires of the regions of Navarra and the Basque provinces for regional autonomy and a preservation of the Fueros, which were rights granted to these provinces by the Spanish Crown in the Middle Ages. This call faded after the First War becoming distanced from traditional Carlism until the positions of Navarra and the Basque regions were on opposite sides during the Spanish Civil War.

Electoral Carlism (Restoration)

Electoral Carlism of Restoration was vital to sustain Traditionalism in the period between the Third Carlist War and the Primo de Rivera dictatorship. Carlism, defeated in 1876, during the Restauración period recalibrated its focus from military action to political means and media campaigns. Accommodating themselves to political framework of the Alfonsine monarchy, the movement leaders considered elections, and especially elections to Congreso de los Diputados, primary vehicle of political mobilization. Though Carlist minority in the Cortes remained marginal and its impact on national politics was negligible, electoral campaigns were key to sustain the party until it regained momentum during the Second Spanish Republic.

Electoral Carlism (Second Republic)

In terms of electoral success Carlism of the Second Republic remained a medium-small political grouping, by far outperformed by large parties like PSOE and CEDA though trailing behind also medium-large contenders like Izquierda Republicana. During 3 electoral campaigns to the Cortes combined the Carlists seized less than 50 seats, which is below 3% of all seats available. Disorganized during the 1931 elections, the Carlist candidates were a first-choice political option for some 50,000 voters; following re-organization in successive campaigns the number grew to 420,000 (1933) and 365,000 (1936), respectively 4.9% and 3.8% of active electors. In the mid-1930s as a second-choice option the Carlists were acceptable candidates for some 1.8m voters (18%). The movement enjoyed support mostly in the Northern belt of Spain; the party stronghold was Navarre, the only region where Carlism remained a dominating force; it was a minority group still to be reckoned with in Vascongadas, Old Castile and Aragón, with rather testimonial presence in some other regions. The best known Carlist Cortes personality was Tomás Domínguez de Arévalo, who held the mandate during all three Republican terms.


Guiri (pronounced [ˈɡiɾi]) is a colloquial Spanish name used in Spain applied to foreign tourists, particularly from countries in northern Europe or the Anglosphere.

José Enrique Varela

José Enrique Varela Iglesias, 1st Marquis of San Fernando de Varela (April 17, 1891 in San Fernando, Cadiz, Spain – March 24, 1951 in Tangier) was a Spanish military officer noted for his role as a Nationalist commander in the Spanish Civil War.

Marcha de Oriamendi

Marcha de Oriamendi (English: March of Oriamendi), is the anthem of the Carlist movement. The name of the anthem stems from the Battle of Oriamendi which took place in 1837 during the First Carlist War.

Margaritas in the Spanish Civil War

Margaritas in the Spanish Civil War played an important role for Nationalist forces. Created in 1919 as a Carlist social aid organization for the poor, they went into decline during the Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera as there was less of a perceived need for promotion of their ideals.

The Second Republic saw conservative women join and form women's groups in response to what they saw as an attack on their traditions and culture. Women went into homes, organizing musical evenings, religious actions and proselytizing. Organized by regions, the Narvarre group would become one of the biggest. María Rosa Urraca Pastor's prominence grew during this period, becoming the national face of the Margaritas. Despite men traditionally opposing political empowerment of women, Communión Tradicionalista supported the Margaritas to further their own political goals and so long as the Margaritas did not challenge male leadership.

Despite a National policy that women should stay well away from the front and Carlists supporting traditional gender roles, Margaritas were very active on the front. They delivered mail, collected Nationalist corpses, laundered clothes, and taught men how to read. In more rural areas, they also took over agricultural activities.

The end of the Civil War and the start of the Francoist period saw Carlism become illegal and the Margaritas disbanded, with official restrictions not being lifted until the mid-1940s. The important contributions of the women of the Margaritas would largely be forgotten and ignored even as the Carlist militia, the raquetés, enjoyed new popularity in the 1950s.


Mellismo (Spanish: [meˈʎizmo]) was a political practice of Spanish ultra-Right of the early 20th century. Born within Carlism, it was designed and championed by Juan Vázquez de Mella, who became its independent political leader after the 1919 breakup. The strategy consisted of an attempt to build a grand ultra-Right party, which in turn would ensure transition from liberal democracy of Restauración to corporative Traditionalist monarchy. Following secession from Carlism Mellismo assumed formal shape of Partido Católico-Tradicionalista, but it failed as an amalgamating force and decomposed shortly afterwards. Theoretical vision of Mella is usually considered part of the Carlist concept and does not count as Mellismo; the strategy to achieve it does. In historiography its followers are usually referred to as Mellistas, though initially the term Mellados seemed to prevail. Occasionally they are also named Tradicionalistas, but the term is extremely ambiguous and might denote also other concepts.


Montejurra in Spanish and Jurramendi in Basque are the names of a mountain in Navarre region (Spain). Each year, it hosts a Carlist celebration in remembrance of the 1873 Battle of Montejurra during the Third Carlist War. In 2004, approximately 1,000 persons turned out.

Between 1960 and 1971 the Carlists were publishing a monthly magazine named Montejurra.

On 9 May 1976 during the Spanish Transition, far right-wing gunmen supported by the Spanish secret services, killed two people at the Carlist Party celebration at a time when it was drifting toward left-leaning positions. This became known as the Montejurra Incidents.

Pragmatic Sanction of 1830

The Pragmatic Sanction of 1830 (Spanish: Pragmática Sanción), issued on 29 March 1830 by King Ferdinand VII of Spain, ratified a Decree of 1789 by Charles IV of Spain, which had replaced the semi-Salic system established by Philip V of Spain with the mixed succession system that predated the Bourbon monarchy (see also Carlism).

When Philip V, from the French Bourbon acceded to the Spanish throne in the Spanish War of Succession, he brought with him the Salic Law, which restricted succession to the throne to the direct male line. However, King Ferdinand VII of Spain had fathered only two daughters, Isabella and Luisa Ferdinand of Bourbon. Ferdinand's father, Charles IV of Spain made a weak attempt to eliminate the Salic Law, and Ferdinand brought forth the Pragmatic Sanction of 1830, so that his oldest daughter would inherit the throne and be declared queen upon his death, as was the Spanish custom.

This removed his brother, Infante Carlos, Count of Molina, as the next in the line of succession under Salic Law. Charles' supporters, among whom was Francisco Calomarde, pressured Ferdinand VII to repeal the Pragmatic Sanction. However, a severe attack of gout incapacitated Ferdinand and when he died on 29 September 1833, Isabella was proclaimed Queen. Since she was still a minor, the kingdom fell under the regency of her mother Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies.


The Requetés (Spanish: [rekeˈtes], from the French requêté, “hunting call”) were the Carlist militia during the Spanish Civil War. Wearing red berets, they mostly came from Navarre and were highly religious with many regarding the war as a Crusade. They were often accompanied by priests as field chaplains, who were known for risking their lives to perform the last rites on the battlefield and who also urged the men on. A Spanish encyclopedia of 1965 defines the Requetés:[A] group of traditionalists whose object is to encourage amongst themselves the goals of the political party, valorous sentiments, physical prowess, initiative, spirit of resistance, and the acceptance of responsibility, and who, during the civil wars of Spain, fought in corps (tercios) in defense of the religious and monarchical traditions.

The earliest use of the term was applied to the Third Battalion of Navarre (Tercer Batallón de Navarra) in 1835 during the First Carlist War, and it was later applied generally to all Carlist combatants.

The Carlist Requetés had been receiving military training during the Second Spanish Republic. During the early and middle periods of the Spanish Civil War the Requeté units were well known as highly motivated and (comparatively) well trained assault troops for the nationalists. Carlist units were instrumental in several nationalist victories, notably during the tough fighting in and around the two northern provinces of the Basque Country, Biscay and Gipuzkoa, during the Northern Campaign in 1937. The negotiations with the conspiring generals were tough.

By July 1936, however, Carlism unanimously supported the far-right nationalist side on the Spanish Civil War. From the start there were serious troubles between the Carlists, especially their then political head Manuel Fal Conde, and the military government. On 8 December 1936, Manuel Fal had to leave temporarily for Portugal after a major clash with Franco.

On 19 April 1937, the Requetés' political branch was "unified" with the Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista. Both the Falange and the regent, Prince Xavier of Bourbon-Parma, protested this move, and, after a meeting with Francisco Franco, Prince Xavier was expelled from Spain. Due to the necessities of the war, actions against the Unification did not go much further, but it meant the loss of all material wealth of the party: buildings, newspapers, etc. Many Carlists refused to join the new party and violence between the factions broke out at the Basilica of Begoña on August 16, 1942, when Falangists attacked a Carlist crowd with grenades, causing many injuries and several deaths.

Second Carlist War

The Second Carlist War, or the War of the Matiners (Catalan for "early-risers," so-called from the harassing action that took place at the earliest hours of the morning), was a civil war occurred in Spain, to some historians considered a direct catalan revolt against Madrid, fought primarily in Catalonia by the Carlists under General Ramón Cabrera against the forces of the government of Isabella II. The uprising began in September 1846 and continued until May 1849, spreading to Galicia.

Theoretically, the war was fought to facilitate the marriage of Isabella II with the Carlist pretender, Carlos de Borbón (or Carlos VI), which was supported by the moderate party and by the Carlists. The marriage never took place, as Isabella II was wed to Francisco de Borbón. The main reasons of the uprising were the liberal centrist policies of queen Isabella II, and the promise of the carlist pretender of restoring the catalan constitutions or "furs" abolished a century ago by the Nueva Planta decrees.

The conflict was rather minor in the Basque Country in the Basque context, a central focus of Carlist uprisings, it was non-existent, so "Second Carlist War" invariably refers to the Third Carlist War. It coincided with the democratic Revolutions of 1848, when Maria Christina revoked the constitution of Ramón de Narváez. Narváez himself led the counterattack against the revolt in Galicia while Fernando de Córdova, captain-general of Catalonia, put down the isolated rebel cells in that region by early 1849. In June of that year, amnesty was granted to the Carlists and those who had fled returned.

The war caused between 30,000 and 100,000 casualties.

Traditionalism (Spain)

Traditionalism (Spanish: tradicionalismo) is a Spanish political doctrine, formulated in the early 19th century and developed until today. It understands politics as implementing the social reign of Jesus Christ. In practical terms it advocates a loosely organized monarchy combined with strong royal powers, with some checks and balances provided by organicist representation, and with society structured on a corporative basis. Traditionalism is an ultra-reactionary doctrine; it rejects concepts such as democracy, human rights, constitution, universal suffrage, sovereignty of the people, division of powers, religious liberty, freedom of speech, equality of individuals, parliamentarism and so on. The doctrine was adopted as theoretical platform by a socio-political movement named Carlism, though it appeared also in a non-Carlist incarnation. Traditionalism has never exercised major influence among the Spanish governmental strata, yet periodically it was capable of mass mobilization and at times partially filtered into the ruling practice.

Traditionalist Communion

The Traditionalist Communion (Spanish: Comunión Tradicionalista, CT) was one of the names adopted by the Carlist movement as a political force since 1869.

Warriors of Christ the King

Guerrilleros de Cristo Rey (lit. "Guerrillas of Christ the King") was a Spanish paramilitary group that operated in the late 1970s.

They emerged at a time of factionism within the Carlist movement. Historically Carlism was a traditionalist, legitimist and Catholic movement, supporting a different monarchial line to the one occupying the Spanish throne. But when the succession fell to Carlos Hugo, he began to support Social Democracy ideology under the banner of the Carlist Party. This caused large scale conflict within the movement; many proclaimed his more traditionalist minded brother, Sixtus Henry, as Carlist regent.

Probably the most notable incident involving the group was the Montejurra Incidents of 1976, which happened during the annual Carlist pilgrimage to that mountain in Navarre. During this attack, two supporters of the Carlos Hugo faction (Ricardo García Pellejero and Aniano Jiménez Santo) were killed. José Luis Marín García Verde and Hermenegildo García Llorente, alleged members of this armed group, were arrested later, but were later released without investigation as Manuel Fraga Iribarne (Member of Franco´s political board) gave direct instructions not to prosecute these murders. The presence of known European Fascist criminals from Argentina (called Triple A or Alianza Apostólica Anticomunista, responsible for several murders in Spain too) and Italy in this has left to some speculating a link to the Cold War-era Operation Gladio.

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